Cloud offerings make enterprise-class intelligent document processing affordable for SMEs for the first time

8 September 2021
intelligent document processing Software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from enterprise-class vendors are driving down the costs of intelligent document processing (IDP) and capture solutions, making them more accessible and affordable to small and medium businesses. This trend unlocks opportunities for paper-intensive small and mid-sized businesses to increase productivity and reduce costs through intelligent automation.    This class of solution was once out of reach for smaller businesses because of relatively high upfront software licensing costs and complex implementation cycles. The shift towards the cloud, however, is helping to make the technology more accessible.    IDP solutions are a class of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) powered software that help businesses to more rapidly process paper and electronic documents. They use optical character recognition (OCR), deep learning models, and natural language processing (NLP) to process documents and feed data to business systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP).    This is one of the fastest-growth markets in tech, with the Everest Group forecasting revenues to rise 55-65% by the end of 2021. The market researcher estimates that the market was worth $700-750 million in 2020 and outlines cost savings and improving operational efficiency and productivity as the major drivers for adoption.    Extracting data at speed Not only can the software rapidly classify, extract and validate machine-printed text, it can also extract data from print and cursive handwriting with high levels of accuracy. The more sophisticated solutions can even read handwriting when it’s not captured within boxes on a form. This data can then be used to feed business systems and automated business processes. ML algorithms enable the software to learn from human workers and get better at its job over time.    For example, data can be automatically captured in an ERP or enterprise content management system without a human needing to manually enter data from multiple sources. When combined with RPA, IDP streamline tasks such as customer onboarding or extracting info from an invoice. This can enhance employee engagement by freeing people from tedious tasks like sorting documents and capturing keying in data, vastly improving processing speed and eliminating human error.   Some of the use cases for IDP include automating mailrooms, processing invoices, handling insurance claims, ID document processing and on-boarding customers. IDP can help any business that handles high volumes of paper or scanned-and-emailed documents to drive higher levels of efficiency. We’ve seen strong adoption in industries such as the finance, logistics, legal and automotive sectors.   One of the strengths of the technology is that the return on investment is highly measurable, with many businesses seeing an impact within six months. A FCTEC client in the automotive sector, for example, reduced the turnaround time for administration around a new vehicle sale by 95% by automating document processing.   Automation can also help to ease compliance, as companies come to grips with the challenges of POPI and other privacy regulations. A scalable cloud solution can help a growing business keep on top of its document load as it expands. Investing in this technology can help an enterprise accelerate digital transformation by digitising its manual processes, driving efficiencies across the board and delivering faster turnaround times to improve the customer experience.

Written by Hanlie van Schalkwyk

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